Skip to main content

Morrill Act


MORRILL ACT. After decades of agitation by agricultural societies, farm journals, and other advocates of vocational training for farmers and mechanics, Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont introduced into Congress a bill for the establishment of agricultural and mechanical arts colleges in every state. The measure passed Congress in 1858, but President James Buchanan vetoed it. The Morrill Act, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, offered states thirty thousand acres of land for each sitting federal representative and senator as an endowment for the proposed schools. Some states, most notably Wisconsin, elected to give the land to existing institutions; others used it to establish new agricultural and technical colleges.


Cross, Coy F. Justin Smith Morrill: Father of the Land-Grant Colleges. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1999.

Simon, John Y. "The Politics of the Morrill Act," Agricultural History 37 (1963): 103–111.

Williams, Roger L. The Origins of Federal Support for Higher Education: George W. Atherton and the Land-Grant College Movement. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1991.

Paul W.Gates/a. r.

See alsoAgriculture ; Cornell University ; Education ; Land Grants: Land Grants for Education ; Universities, State ; University of Wisconsin .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Morrill Act." Dictionary of American History. . 21 May. 2019 <>.

"Morrill Act." Dictionary of American History. . (May 21, 2019).

"Morrill Act." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved May 21, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.